We live by the “Picky Eaters Are Made, Not Born” theory. As I mentioned yesterday, when my oldest was 2, for example, she ate fresh from the garden Tomato, sweet onion and cheese sandwiches nearly every day for lunch. She had no idea that kids weren’t “supposed” to like that stuff.
Our goal is to introduce new foods and continue to re-introduce them until everyone can tolerate the item. It truly can take a child the 7th or 8th time of taking a “No Thank You Bite” of the item, before they learn to eat it. This “No Thank You Bite” rule has worked so well in promoting brave eating. I love when exclamations of “Hey, I DO like it!” are heard!
Because of this try and retry method, our family, Daddy included, now LOVE LOVE LOVES fresh broccoli, steamed.
In fact, I have to do at least 2 heads, or there is not enough to go around. They BEG for seconds and thirds on broccoli.
You better believe I didn’t think I’d EVER see the day this occurred!
We also work towards “Happy Plates” by starting our toddlers with 1 T. of each item, per year (for example, a 3 year old gets 3 T. or 3 pieces of each item we are serving for dinner on their plate). By keeping portions small, you are helping them succeed! And, when they work hard to achieve a Happy Plate, we hoop and holler and give out “Happy Plate Hugs”. You’d be surprised what a great motivator something so simple can be!
Here are some thoughts from the blogger Jenny, over at Picky Palate about this topic:
Many of you have picky eaters on your hands or know friends who do. What on earth do we do about it? To be honest with you, there is no magic answer here. Every child is so different. For heavens sake, I was one of the pickiest eaters myself as a kid. I am talking, the only vegetable I would eat is corn, and thought macaroni and cheese with hot dogs was the perfect dinner. The thought of eating lettuce greens or tomatoes made my stomach turn. I am happy to say, I like about everything in my adult years. Can hardly believe I am a foodie now, lol! I tell you this, because I know there is hope for those little picky palates when you think there is absolutely no hope!
What I do know, is what has worked for my boys over the years. Here are some tips I have compiled that I hope can help!
- Slowly introduce new foods to your little ones. Don’t expect them to jump up and down with excitement the first or even second time you give them a new food. Persistence and patience is the key.
- Make your vegetables and or fruit that your little ones may not be very excited about into fun shapes. Use small cookie cutters to cut their fruits and veggies into something new and exciting. Play “What can we make out of our food?” chances are they’ll love it.
- Get your kids in the kitchen with you while preparing meals. When they have a hand in dinner, they’ll be proud of what they’ve done and want to eat it. As hectic as it can be at times, take the kids to the grocery store with you so they can help pick out ingredients for dinner. Build excitement about what they pick out.
- Don’t make more than one dinner per night for your family. Some moms I know make dinner for each child because they don’t like what was fixed. No way! Try a “No Thank You” policy. If your child doesn’t like what was made for dinner, simply have them try at least one bite each time then say “No Thank You” if they don’t like it. Even if they don’t like it the first time, chances are they’ll eventually learn to enjoy it. If they know there is only one choice for dinner, they won’t want to be hungry later.
- Make dinner a fun experience, where the kids are excited to sit down. Your vibe will rub off on them. When they see their parents ooing and ahhing over what they are eating, they’ll be more likely to eventually join you. You can even play games with you food while you are eating, like “Let’s see who can take more bites or how many different colors of the rainbow can we eat off our plate?” Something with a little competition can be fun.
- Try “naming” your child’s food something fun and playful… Sammy’s Saucy Superhero Spaghetti, Luke’s Green Giant Broccoli, Anna’s Princess Smile Oranges….you get the idea, make it fun. Purchase inexpensive “fun” kids plates that might be exciting to your child. If they are eating off of their favorite superhero or princess, they will want to gobble up their food.
- Avoid too many snacks before dinner time, keep them hungry for dinner.
- Most importantly be patient and make meal time fun.
Persistence will be your best friend!
Give “No Thank You Bites” & “Happy Plate Hugs” a try, they sure work well at our house!
What other tips or tricks have worked for your family?